Look, I’m not going to pretend that everyone should read this, but if you play Destiny—or are just curious about what would make a Destiny player tick—then this research paper based on the game and its players is an interesting read.

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Called Guns and Guardians: Comparative Cluster Analysis and Behavioral Profiling in Destiny (remember, it’s a paper, not a best-selling novel), it looks at the data from 27,967 PvE players and 16,422 PvE players in the game and is able to classify them into certain behavioural groups based on the weapons they use and how they used them.

Looking at the type of guns used, at what distance kills were made and in what game mode, the authors were able to create some broad player categories.

Here are the player classes able to be determined from PvE data. Note these aren’t based on the game’s actual classes, they’ve been developed based on preferred weapons and playstyles:

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High DPS (23.5% of the players): The largest cluster of players focused on using weapons with a high damage per second (DPS) output and use their specials a lot.

Guerilla Warriors (16.7% of the players): These use a great variety of weapons and are highly adaptable to changing situations in the game. They change weapons often and are characterized mainly by their flexibility and consistent high performance with all kinds of weapons.

Close Combatants (22.9% of the players): These players are characterized by their almost exclusive reliance on close combat weaponry (melee and short-range guns), with which they perform very well, better than any other profile.

Sitting Duck Snipers (18.8% of the players): These players prefer to kill their opponents at long ranges, and tend to operate from stationary positions, utilizing sniper rifles first and then switching to other weapons as enemies close the distance.

Mobile Marksmen (18.1% of the players): Unlike the Sitting Duck Snipers, the Mobile Marksmen stay mobile and engage the enemy at closer ranges, but surprisingly stick to a single weapon type, most commonly a long-distance rifle such as scout-, pulse- or sniper rifles.

The data was handed over before the release of Rise of Iron, so not everything you see here is 100% up to date.

In addition to the classifications, though, the study was also using the data—provided to the authors by Bungie—to map game balance, and found that despite the wild differences in approach and playstyle, the closer you get to the top levels of the Destiny community, the neater those differences dovetail together.

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All of which is building towards something cool. Tucked away in the conclusion of the paper is this:

Future work aims at building on the profiling results towards the creation of an item recommendation system for Destiny. The first step in this process will be extending across the character level range, and generate performance/playstyle clusters as a function of progression, adopting a more dynamic performance view. Secondly, the equipment held by each player can be incorporated into the analysis, providing insights into what weapon choices are preferred by the most skilled players for each playstyle at all levels of in-game progression. With this information, a recommender system for suggesting items to players can be developed.

As someone who only dabbles in Destiny, and can be overwhelmed by the stats and changes made to weapons, getting some quality gear recommendations based precisely on what I was needing would be great.

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There’s a summary of the report’s findings over on Gamasutra, but you can read the whole thing here.